Whether or not you’re a fan of the genre, romantic comedies — you know, rom-coms — are abundant and, well, unavoidable. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable, they certainly are, especially when penned by someone like Woody Allen or Nora Ephron. Though no matter who is behind the pen or the page, romantic comedies tend to stick towards a genre-specific checklist. In other words, there are seven qualities all rom-coms have, and if you follow them, ideally you can complete your own screenplay, too.
In a video essay by BFI Films, writer Tess Morris of the upcoming “Man Up” (starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg — read our review here) discusses how to strategize when developing a film based on a specific relationship. Morris recommends Billy Mernit’s book “How to Write a Romantic Comedy,” and she summarizes the seven beats these films will need.
You’ll certainly need a chemical connection to get your lovelorn pair off to a good start, and along the way they’ll meet in an adorable fashion, probably get into a huge tiff, and break up, only to then have the startling realization that they were meant to be with the other person. Happily ever after? Sometimes. And as Morris notes, the best romantic comedies will hit all the requirements of the genre, but will do so in a way that the screenplay mechanics will be well hidden, or be delivered in a fresh and interesting way.
What’s your favorite romantic comedy? Let us know in the comments below.